Lamberhurst is situated in the High Weald of Kent, forty miles south of London.
The soil of the valley bottom is sand, the hills very stiff clay.
The site was evolved over millennia, by the River Teise eroding the upper strata levels of the Weald to create one of the most fertile areas of the entire High Weald; however, it would take time to convert this hidden gem into a jewel.
This erosive action of the River Teise and its tributaries would uncover iron nodules which the Romans discovered in other parts of the Weald, and they developed an iron-smelting industry that was the second largest in their entire empire. But High Weald Lamberhurst remained untouched, and even Roman and Jute pathfinders 'travelling through' would have been rare.
The first regular visitors would have been the early Saxons, who found that the woodlands surrounding the river valley were ideal pannage (feeding) pastures for their swine, but only stayed here during the season.
Soon, competition from illegal drovers necessitated protection and stability and so the Saxon 'Lord of the Manor', who owned the land, built the first timber church and a meeting house, for himself or, more likely, his reeve (representative), and developed a water meadow and encouraged his land tenants from Rochester to move here permanently and establish the first settlement in the valley bottom, close to the location where the two main drover roads in the area intersected and where the best river crossing was for miles around. They began clearing areas of the forest to provide timber and better pastures and named the village as a description: 'soft clay on a wooded hill' or 'a woody place that is suitable for lambing or the pasturage of lambs'.
The Norman conquest transformed the developing community. The new 'Lords of the Manor', whose official seat was Leeds Castle, rebuilt the church and meeting house and built two gist mills on the river, all in stone, and oversaw the development of the village's first domestic industries, baking and cider production.
With the gradual clearing of the forests, the next industry developed: sheep for wool. This was exported in great quantities to the continent, legally or illegally, and financed the building of the first Wealden Hall Houses, utilising the favoured local oak in its timber-frame construction.
Lamberhurst did not stop to draw breath when the wool market collapsed, as Robert Cogger had built his Fulling Mill in the village and was successfully manufacturing Kentish Broadcloth commercially and cattle replaced sheep as the main agrarian activity.
Then followed the first example of industrial vertical integration in the village as the leather industry logically followed the establishment of a weekly cattle market and slaughter-house. A tannery, a curing shop, a dye shop and finished leather goods workshops were established.
Iron manufacture was established at Lamberhurst Furnace and Forge at Hoathly, which produced cannon in great numbers for one hundred and fifty years and swallowed up the local labour market to coppice the woods, produce charcoal, transport the raw materials, man the iron works and to transport the finished goods.
The population grew rapidly in the 16th century, when over twenty different industries were in operation and a minimum of thirteen new Wealden Hall Houses were built and five extended or refurbished.
The county border line was adjusted in 1894, making the entire village in Kent.
Then hop growing expanded and witnessed the arrival of the London East End families to pick during their summer vacation and then beer brewing expanded in the 19th century and chemical manufacture was established in the 20th century.
All that has now gone and the village with it?
On the contrary.
We have the busiest village shop in the area, selling everything from groceries to a dry cleaning service. A bakery to which commuters divert on their homeward journeys to buy its wonderful bread. An entrepreneurial butcher, who takes the supermarkets head on with his unrivalled quality and range of meats. A hairdresser who successfully competes with the up-market salons in Tunbridge Wells. One of the oldest pubs in England. One of the best Italian restaurants for miles around.
And we have history: over one thousand years of it; witnessed by one Grade I and over sixty Grade II Listed buildings and personal visits by three different Kings and Queens of England and by an Archbishop of Canterbury.
The hidden gem is now a jewel for all to enjoy.